Donald Trump recently got around to noting a specific verse from his professed “favorite book,” the Bible. Speaking at Liberty University, the candidate gave a fumbling nod to what he called “Two Corinthians 3:17,” the founding verse of the Christian school.
“Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty,” he gushed.
Given the level of decadence the first-century author of this verse found among the Corinthians─over and against Trump’s own lifestyle─there was some unintended irony in his citation. And it only became acuter when Trump proceeded to comment on the passage: “That’s the whole ballgame…and it’s so representative of what’s taking place.”
By way of background: Saint Paul wrote two letters to the Christian church residing in the Greek city of Corinth. In classical times, Corinth was renowned for its temple to Aphrodite, the goddess of beauty, pleasure and so-called love. Temple prostitutes devoted to her worship were a major financial resource that made the city “great again.” Roughly one thousand women serviced the wealthy merchants and powerful officials who frequented the city.
Referring to its pricey, sensual luxuries, the poet Horace coined the aphorism: “non licet omnibus adire Corinthum” (“Not everyone is able to go to Corinth”).
This decadence continued into New Testament times, compelling Paul to spend an unusual amount of time addressing sexual sins (porneia) in his letters to the city’s church, more than in any of his other epistles.
Fast forward two thousand years to a candidate for president and first family who cheated on and then divorced his first wife; who had a child out of wedlock before briefly marrying his second wife; who bedded a fashion model young enough to be his daughter (she was 28, he was 52); and who has bragged about his numerous sexual exploits. In his book, Think Big, for example, Trump wrote “Oftentimes when I was sleeping with one of the top women in the world I would say to myself, thinking about me as a boy from Queens, ‘Can you believe what I am getting?’”
The Queens’ boy not only “slept” with women, he opened up a showroom for them. When hard economic times hit Atlantic City, where he owned three casinos, Trump fought back, borrowing a page from the Corinthian playbook. In September of 2013, the $25 million Scores Atlantic City opened up in Trump’s Taj Mahal casino.* This massive 36,000-square foot strip-club was the first for a United States casino.
I could detail additional aspects of his character, policies and even business practices that should give the voting electorate pause─particularly those of a Christian persuasion.
Yes, it’s also true Trump has some worthy policies, characteristics, and good deeds that should also be considered. His children seem to have turned out well, and he appears to be generally well-loved by his employees. And we can and should appreciate the attention he has brought to important issues like illegal immigration and his disrupting influence on establishment politics, PC group-think, and big-money lobbyists.
It’s also true that his sexual exploits and values may be no worse─and indeed could well be better─than some presidents. Kennedy and Clinton come to mind immediately. There’s a big difference, however, in that their indiscretions were covered-up by them and their handlers. While no one, particularly God, likes hypocrisy, it nevertheless is the homage vice pays to virtue. Do we really want a man who has displayed an open disregard for this virtue; an unrepentant adulterer, serial fornicator and porneia-promoter to be the leader of America and the free world?
And, by the way, about Trump’s frequent boasts that he has a brilliant plan to defeat Isis and Islamic terror: their leaders could very well use his lifestyle and the nude photos of his wife, Melania, as propaganda/recruitment tools to bolster the ranks in their “holy war” against they believe to be the Great Satan, the United States of America. And they would have a point.
These moral issues, of course, could be profoundly ameliorated with one word, REPENTANCE: the simple act that opens Heaven’s window of grace, forgiveness and healing. By acknowledging his past sins, turning from and renouncing them, Trump could become an explicit force for good rather than a not-so-implicit one for evil.
Interestingly, it was to the Christians in Corinth, who had been guilty of every sexual sin from fornication to homosexuality, that Saint Paul famously observed:
“And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you
were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”
1 Corinthians 6:11
The big problem for Trump, as well as for the values voter, is that there is little or no evidence he has repented and been washed. Trump has disavowed nothing.
When asked at the Family Leadership Summit in Iowa last July if he had ever sought God’s forgiveness, Trump incredibly responded, “I’m not sure I have. I just go and try and do a better job from there…If I do something wrong, I just try to make it right…I don’t bring God into that picture.” A week later, Anderson Cooper gave him the opportunity to clarify his remark. “Why do I have to repent or ask for forgiveness, if you’re not making mistakes? I work hard, I’m an honorable person,” he replied.
More recently (1/26/16), Trump was challenged about the perceived hypocrisy of his stone-throwing at Bill Clinton’s sexual indiscretions when his own glass house was so morally compromised. Trump replied:
One would be hard pressed to come up with responses that are more contrary to the Gospel; more profoundly un-Christian. And frankly lame.
Many evangelicals could perhaps better handle these moral issues if Trump wasn’t wrapping himself in the Christian flag and making insipid, patronizing promises like the hambone he threw out to his audience at Liberty: “If I’m president, you’re going to see ‘Merry Christmas’ in department stores, believe me.”
Not to offend or come off as mean-spirited, but how desperate─or stupid─does one have to be to swallow this kind of nonsense?
Right now, I’m praying fervently for Mr. Trump as well as for our country. What both need is a gift of grace: for God to bust up inside our hearts, knock us off the high horse presently slouching toward Gomorrah, and reveal to us the true way of salvation.
Father, grant Mr. Trump, grant us Your mercy. Show us that only where the Spirit is Lord can there be true liberty.
*Technically, Robert Gans opened it in the Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort . But it was done with Trump’s blessing and permission.
Yesterday afternoon my wife called with the news that David Bowie had died. I was surprised by the level of emotion I felt. After praying and thinking about it off and on throughout the rest of the day—taking in a couple of news reports and remembrances on the radio along the way—I came home and posted the following eulogy on Facebook:
Hats off to one of the most talented, creative and innovative artists of my generation. Heads bowed in prayer for his family and for any grace that may have been or may yet be granted his soul. There’s much of his legacy that is very, very dark, not the least of which was inspiring thousands if not millions of young people to—as the title of the song he produced for Lou Reed declared—”Take a walk on the wild side.”
When I heard about his death and the album he released last Friday, I got online and checked for clues to the state of his soul in his “last days.” I knew from the research I did for Hell’s Bells 2–The Power and Spirit of Popular Music that he had dabbled in everything from Buddhism (at one time he almost became a monk), satanism, the occult (Crowleyism), Nietzschism, and, yes, Christianity.
Like most people, as he got older and shadow of death became more sharply drawn, he showed more and more interest in God, describing himself —like so many today—as “deeply spiritual but not religious.” He married Iman, the supermodel from Somalia and a nominal Muslim in a civil ceremony, but later insisted they be married in a Christian church so their marriage could be “sanctified by God.” They had their miracle baby, Alexandria, christened. Faint evidence of a converted heart, admittedly. But perhaps as the chilly Jordan river began to lap his shoreline and the hounds of heaven pursued…
About the album: he had worked on it knowing he was likely dying. The song title “Lazarus” caught my eye. The words, like most of his lyrics (his weak suit IMO) were vague and a tad pretentious. Then I watched the music video he made for it. Chills. Death’s acid-etching throughout. Eerie, dark and ambiguous. Just like the man.
God only knows.
To acknowledge the passing of a man who had been rumored dead so many times before, Iman tweeted: “The struggle is real, but so is God” along with the caption “Rise.” David Bowie most certainly will… on that Great Day, when Christ returns and inaugurates the New Creation and when everyone will rise again with new bodies. (John 5:29; Dan. 12:2)
The only question—the ultimate question for all of us—is to what end?
What about you, dear reader? Are you ready for that Day?
There’s much in the Bible that can confound or offend non-believers and believers alike. And with the rise of the so-called New Atheism, as well as movements seeking to normalize what the Bible condemns, more and more attention is being paid to what professional skeptic Richard Dawkins calls the “nasty bits” in the Scriptures.
The imagery, focus on and ritual use of blood─something inexorably linked to Calvary’s cross─is among the most common points of contention.
This series will focus on one aspect of this “bloodiness” that is rarely discussed or even thought about by most Christians: that is blood’s connection to sex. And in doing so I will address the proverbial “elephant in the room.” When Christians rightly invoke Leviticus 18 (among several other verses) to challenge the loosening of sexual mores─specifically homosexual behavior (vs. 22), critics love to point out that the same chapter similarly condemns sexual intercourse between a husband and wife while she is menstruating (vs. 19), something that many (most?) Christian couples have experienced inadvertently or even intentionally.
Are these Christians guilty of cherry-picking the Bible─of selective application and gross hypocrisy?
To “rightly divide” (2 Tim. 2:15), to properly get our minds around these admittedly difficult passages, it is vital we first acknowledge where the true difficulty lies in regard to them. It is not so much with the Bible as it is with us.
First, there is our pride, our innate tendency to not trust in the Lord with all our heart but rather “lean to our own understanding.” (Pro. 3:15). At its worst, this “birth defect” (Psa. 51:5; Jer. 17:9; Eph. 2:1&3) will drive us to sit in judgment of God and the Bible, to search the Scriptures to find fodder for our rebellion rather than for illumination. This is precisely Dawkin’s and every other skeptic’s primary approach.
It’s no wonder the Bible seems foolish to them.
Second is our laziness and intellectual indifference and/or our ignorance. We don’t do the “heavy lifting” necessary to knock, seek and have the doors of our understanding opened. Three key aspects of this (there are others):
- Truly believing that all of Scripture is God-breathed and is profitable for teaching, correction and training in righteousness (2 Tim. 3:16). All scripture doesn’t just mean each of the sixty-six books individually (seventy-three if one is a Roman Catholic; seventy-six (or so) for the Greek and Eastern Orthodox) but also all of the books corporately. (Matt. 4:4; note every) To truly, ultimately understand any passage—particularly the surprising, difficult and shocking ones—we have to process them within the context and light of the entire Canon; to let the Bible interpret the Bible.
- We need to understand the language of the Bible. By language I don’t necessarily mean the original ones the Bible was recorded in: biblical Hebrew, Aramaic and Koine Greek—though no doubt that can help. More importantly, we need to set aside our modern (or post-modern), Western, so-called “enlightenment” presuppositions and strive to enter the world of the inspired human authors: to let the Bible and its worldview interpret a passage instead of imposing our personal interpretive lens on it. This involves picking up on the figures of speech (similes, metaphors, metonymies) and idioms of the time and culture. To differentiate between the different styles of writing: historical narrative, poetry, apocalyptic, law/statutory, parable, epistle, genealogical, prophecy, proverbial and hyperbolic. And, of course, it also means depending on the true Author of the content and language: God the Spirit.
- Vitally connected with #’s 1 and 2: we need to also read the Bible against the backdrop of the big picture—in the context of God’s redemptive purposes and their arc in history. Some of the more salient features of this relative to the task at hand:
- God created a “very good” world with man set in as His vice-regent, His high priest operating from within the temple/control center of Eden’s garden. He was called to cultivate and keep it, eventually exporting its divine beauty and order throughout the rest of Eden and then the outlying world. (Gen. 1:31; 28; 2:15; Num. 3:7-8; 8:25-26; 18:5-6; 1 Chron. 23:32; Ezek. 44:14. For more on this go here.)
- Man fell (Gen. 3) and the chaotic, dark void (Gen. 1:2) that had been divinely transformed in six successive stages returned with a vengeance. Now only through toil and pain can the chaos and darkness be defeated and the work of “heavenizing” (cultivating, keeping, filling and ruling) the earth be accomplished. (Gen. 3:16-20) The ultimate expression of this pain and toil became quintessentially incarnate in Christ, reaching a horrifying crescendo on the cross.
- God then sets about fixing and re-launching the original project, specifically by redeeming a segment of mankind and introducing into the world a “new” or “second” Adam, both the Person and His descendants. (1 Cor. 15:45; Rom. 5:12-21; John 20:22 (compare to Gen. 2:7); Matt. 18:28, Rom.8:19)
- A vital, early stage in this project involved drawing out from the morass of fallen humanity a people─one that God set His Name upon and then proceeded to both teach and reveal to the world His ways. Eventually, and with signs and wonders following, YHWH gathered Israel to the navel of the earth. He put them on the world-stage stage to act out the covenant relationship He had established with Israel…and in doing so to potentially redeem the world.
- Israel spectacularly failed at this—of course, something that did not take LORD by surprise. But they did do a good job—in most cases inadvertently—of serving as object lessons for those upon whom the promise/fulfillment of the ages would later come. (1 Cor. 10:11)
- From the Jews would eventually come the true Israel, the One who in fact would redeem the world and inaugurate with His own body the New Creation that God from the beginning sought to bring to the world. (Col. 1:15-23)
- A vital corollary to these last three points are the laws, rules and ritual acts YHWH gave Israel to obey and model as a key aspect of His covenant with them. Some were based on eternal moral absolutes, rooted in God’s own nature. The Ten Commandments are the most obvious examples of this. But many were temporal and deeply, powerfully symbolic—typological and recursive actions that called to, invoked and provided insight into the mysteries of God’s plan of redemption. Perhaps the best example of this was the elaborate system of ritual sacrifice—most of it involving blood—that pointed to and then passed away when the true Sacrifice was taken to Calvary’s altar. (John 1:29; Heb. 10:1-8; Rev. 5)
In this sense, the people of Israel were like actors on Shakespeare’s world stage, unknowing participants in a kind of cosmic, ritual folk dance that overflowed with symbolic and pedagogical meaning. (There likely were times when the more spiritually attuned of them were aware of the symbolic/prophetic nature of their particular steps in the dance, particularly when those steps became very, very odd. (see Isa. 20:2; Jer. 13:1-7; Eze. 4; Hos. 1; among others)
It is against this backdrop—and particularly in the light of the point just made—that we turn our attention to the “blood and sex” passages in the Old Testament. (Stay tuned for Part Two)
“All who are baptized into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, recognizing the Trinity of Persons in the Godhead, the incarnation of the Son and his priestly sacrifice, whether they be Greeks, or Arminians, or Romanists, or Lutherans, or Calvinists, or the simple souls who do not know what to call themselves, are our brethren. Baptism is our common countersign. It is the common rallying standard at the head of our several columns.” A.A. Hodge, Reformed scholar and president of Princeton Seminary between 1878 and 1886 (Evangelical Theology, p. 338).
Like many thinking and engaged Protestants, I was trained from the get-go of my newly born-again life to be suspicious of Roman Catholicism. (It is important I think to use the descriptive “Roman” when referring to it because, in truth, all Christians are Catholics: meaning members of the universal church.)
For example, as a young campus minister I attended a series of classes on the cults where I was instructed in the inherent errors of Mormonism, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Way, Scientology, EST, Islam, and the main eastern religions. But there was also an entire session on RCism. Because it was Trinitarian, used and professed to have a high view of the same Bible we had (with seven questionable books thrown in—but, hey, they’ve been around before Christ so it’s not like the Book of Mormon or anything) and enthusiastically embraced the life, death and resurrection of the God/man Jesus as the key to redemptive history, RCism couldn’t quite be lumped into the same camp as the others.
Nevertheless, some extra-Biblical–and many would argue contra-biblical—weirdness (to me and most Protestants) existed in spades. Then there were the hundreds of thousands of former RCs who had had born-again experiences and now made up a significant percentage of Protestant congregations, many angry because they felt they had been inoculated against the Gospel of grace by what they now saw as rote ritual and a works-oriented system of salvation. Finally, toss in the Dark Ages, some ridiculously corrupt popes and the millions who were killed, directly or indirectly, by RCism—including the hyper-cruel torture and martyrdom of many Protestant heroes. Add it all up and the conclusion seemed clear: Roman Catholicism may not be a anti-Christian cult in the classic sense of the term, at least not in its 20th Century form. (The Reformers may have been right to label the papacy as the seat of Anti-Christ during the medieval period.) But it sure was cultish…and we needed to call people out of it.
But then the RC church had been and was changing, clearly impacted by the growth and influence of Protestantism, particularly in America. The Jesus Movement and the charismatic renewal suddenly had RCs and Protestants rubbing shoulders in big ways. And when it came to standing strong on two key social issues—the sanctity of life and biblical marriage—RCs were often leading the way…while half of the Protestant church seemed to be more a part of the problem than the solution.
It was in the epicenter of pro-life activism that I began to get to know sincere RCs and, through them, better understand the heart of their faith. (There were several times when we had entire days to discuss things: while we were in jail together, having been arrested for blocking clinic access while praying in front of abortion clinics.) As we prayed together and allowed “iron to sharpen iron” (Proverbs 21:17) in a spirit of humility and mutual respect, I began to realize I had something of a cartoon-like, “Jack Chick” version of their beliefs in regard to a number of suspect doctrines: purgatory, Mary, praying for and to the dead, the Eucharist, penitential works, the Magisterium and papal infallibility, etc. I was challenged to and agreed to read some of the writings by the early church fathers (most notably the three book compilation by William Jurgens) and was surprised to see how many of their distinct doctrines were hinted at, if not down-right espoused, by more than a few of the great men of God who were the immediate heirs of the Apostolic era.
My pious, pro-life RC friends also kindly pointed out to me one distinct area in which the Protestant emperor had the back of his hospital gown flapping in the wind: with all their problems and failures, the RC church had a credible claim to still be standing and unified after two millennia. While Protestants? Still protesting, the little cusses, and not just against the RC church. We have divided and split like a science project run amok, forming hundreds if not thousands of denominations—many of which have descended into abject loopiness and error.
I wasn’t buying it all—at least not hook, line and sinker. But as I was growing in my faith and walk with the Lord, I was also coming to understand that some of my own pet—and often overly pat—doctrines were at best approximations of much deeper truths. I began to humbly appreciate the inherent limits of the human mind in fully comprehending ultimate truth and God’s mysteries. Feedback loops, cognitive biases, the impossibility of true and sufficient fact gathering, the influence of propaganda and manufactured consent, and the fact that the closer we get to the mind of a God who lives and moves and has His Being in utter Transcendence, the more fragile our four-dimensional time/space perch becomes. (Yes, one of Christianity’s many unique doctrines is that God is simultaneously Immanent—and was even wonderfully, physically so in the Incarnation. But as Phil. 2:7 and other verses makes clear: from our vantage point as fallen, fallible, finite beings, all we are capable of grasping from this Immanence are the barest outlines—the form or likeness—of His Being.)
I also began to deeply appreciate some aspects of their faith and religious traditions. The ancient liturgy, for example: how in every service over 2,000 years the Word was sung, prayed, preached and—in climax—eaten. Communion (the Eucharist) seemed charged with reverence, meaning, transcendence and a gracious power that made my Protestant experience of passing grape juice and a little hardtack cracker down the aisle seem lame—almost blasphemous—by comparison. I learned there were Protestant services that were roughly equivalent and began attending them. And frankly, I still stand with Calvin and other Reformers—over and against the RC tradition—in seeing the Real Presence of Christ spiritually manifest in the bread and wine. They are not mere mementoes or symbols but rather are infused with His Presence: the miracle of con- rather than tran- substantiation.
But at the end-of-the-day, I prefer what humbly seems to me the RC error in regard to this sacrament to the anemic (a rare instance where a descriptive is scientifically/medically accurate) version offered in the majority of Protestant churches.
And therein may be an example or metaphor we would all do well to consider. We’re dealing here with mysteries. And each of the three main approaches to the sacrament of communion, I believe, is sincerely seeking to honor and glorify Christ as the center and fount of this mystery. I’ve got my own take on the Eucharist; one that is pretty different from the one I had thirty years ago. I think…I hope I’m right about it. But I will not succumb to the hubris of insisting I’m right and then, even worse, condemning those who believe differently as being in error.
And I can say the same thing about the ordo salutis, election, predestination, baptisms, eschatology, ecclesiology, the scope of atonement, perseverance, tongues, the place and state of souls after death and a hundred other doctrines and mysteries over which Christians disagree and even divide. That’s fine, even necessary and helpful…as long as it is done in a spirit of charity and humility, allowing iron to sharpen iron so that greater truth and understanding can eventually emerge.
But it is bad for the Church, tragic for a lost and hurting world, and a wound to the heart of the One who prayed the words of John 17 when these disagreements and divisions become a tool of strife, accusations, condemnations, fighting and even war.
God knows. And only God knows. And in the end, will not the Judge of the whole earth and men’s hearts do right?
(In part 2, I will share a recent experience that I hope illustrates how this unity can work—as well as the mindsets that exist in the Church which will try and frustrate it.)
* I write this as one who has humbly studied the Roman Catholic faith with a willingness to join should I become convinced that it was the truest and best depository of the Apostolic faith. (Yes, RC friends, I’ve read and listened to a bunch of Scott Hahn…and a whole lot more.) To date, I remain a Protestant with both feet planted in the Reformed/Augustinian tradition. And that perspective or bias—for example, examining the potential error (graciously, I hope) inherent in the RC tradition—is obvious in this article. I want to acknowledge that a Roman Catholic apologist could and even should turn this on its head and write a similar essay describing how he or she had been raised to be suspect of Protestants and all their heterodox ideas and practices. And then with a tut-tut, advise RC’s everywhere to learn to love and work with their Protestant neighbors as sincere but errant, separated brethren.
What’s good for the reformer is good for the formed.
In a world torn with strife, displaced peoples and a growing underclass mired in poverty and despair, Madagascar—the eighth poorest nation in the world—is experiencing a modern-day miracle as tens of thousands of people are encountering the transformative power of the Gospel. All due in large part to the efforts of one man.
The oldest of eight children, Pedro Opeka was born in a suburb of Buenos Aires in 1948. His parents had immigrated to Argentina from Slovenia just a few months before in order to escape Tito’s brutal purge of those who resisted the communist take-over. Luis, Pedro’s father, instilled in the young boy a love of God, people, freedom and hard work, introducing him into the masonry trade at nine-years-of-age. By fourteen Pedro was a certified brick-layer—and by 17 had built his first home for the poor—in this case for the Mapuche Indians in the Andean mountains. Little did he know this was a foreshadowing of what would become, in large part, his life’s work.
Pious, academically-gifted, and also an excellent soccer player, as a young teen Pedro wondered whether to pursue professional sports or the priesthood. The latter won out and he entered seminary when he was fifteen. In 1968 he traveled to Europe, where he studied philosophy and theology in Slovenia and in France, and then spent two years as a missionary in Madagascar. He was ordained a priest in the Basilica of Luján in Argentina on September 25, 1975 and the next year was sent back to serve the people of Madagascar.
For nearly fifteen years the young priest ministered in a remote, southeast region of the island nation, teaching and pastoring, living among the people, cultivating rice to survive and playing soccer, eventually becoming a star on his home team. In all this, he very much became a man of the people.
In 1989, Father Opeka was sent to direct the Vincentian seminary located in the capital city of Antananarivo. Now in his 40s, it was there that God refocused his life and he found his ultimate mission. “When I arrived,” he later wrote, “I could not shut my eyes to utter destitution. I saw a 1,000 children struggling for survival among the animals in the garbage dump…I was dumbstruck. I said to myself, ‘Here I could not just talk. I had to act!'” He went to meet them and promised, “Together we are going to get out of this mess!”
With the help of some young people he had trained in his former parish, Father Opeka built a small home for children on the edge of a landfill. It was followed by second, and then another. Soon, a small village rose out of the debris. They named it Manantenasoa, Malagasy for “the hill of courage.”
Interested in improving the quality and permanence of the homes as well as creating jobs, Father Opeka next took advantage of the abundant stone and granite deposits around the villages. His team engineered several quarries as he began teaching the formerly unemployed how to lay brick, working alongside them as they built. Masonry took the place of wood and bright, beautiful homes began to dot the hillside. Next they fabricated a compost center near the dump, providing a source of fertilizer to grow crops as well as new jobs in the farming sector. Streets followed as paving became another trade developed by the community. Embroidery workshops for women were developed and light manufacturing began. Carpenters, cabinet makers and other vocations followed. Primary and secondary schools and medical clinics were built and staffed. And the Gospel was preached in both word and deed. Father Opeka would eventually preside over masses with as many as 10,000 people participating.
Through all this, beauty was birthed from ashes. What was once a landscape of garbage, crude huts and despair has been transformed into a sprawling cluster of 18 villages with homes, schools, gardens, flowers and paved, clean streets. Thirty thousand people live and work in these new villages of hope. Approximately 10,000 children attend the 37 schools that have been established. And the “hill of courage” has grown into a small city christened Akamasoa, meaning “Good Friends” in the Malagasy language.
And there is one man—an ambassador of the One who is closer to all of us than even the dearest brother (Proverbs 18:2)—who is the very best, earthly friend of them all.
In today’s brave new world, it’s verboten to connect child abuse to same-sex attraction or gender dysphoria, despite them being disproportionately common among its victims. Yet the media and public widely accept and discuss the connection between child abuse and later struggles with everything from obesity to attachment disorder. My blog on Sex and the Singularly Abused Girl evoked an immediate response from a number of people who acknowledged and appreciated this point.
Some, however, insisted there are many exceptions – homosexuals who have never been abused but have what appears to be an innate same-sex orientation. Several mentioned a family member or friend who truly seem to have been “born gay.” (As a pastor and and a student of the subject I have known, ministered to and interviewed quite a few as well.) They wanted to know what I had to say about them.
First, I would simply point to the many LGBTQ advocates who now freely acknowledge that hitching their cause to the civil rights movement was the key to normalizing homosexuality. This was chief among a number of reasons they insisted same-sex attraction was congenital and immutable – akin to being black or Slovak.
But now they have so spectacularly won the day, more and more homophiles have drop-kicked this rhetoric. And for good reason. There simply is no scientific support for the “hard-wired, born gay” premise. To the contrary, a growing body of evidence points to human sexuality being malleable or—as it is more commonly characterized—“fluid.” (And the right to engage with and explore this fluidity has now become the new cause célèbre for many in the movement.)
“…early childhood influences on sexuality (whatever they may be) were not immutable, and that most individuals were unaware of their own capacity for change in sexuality over time.” (Lisa M. Diamond, Sexual Fluidity, (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2008), p.8)
And toward the end of Sexual Fluidity, Diamond openly acknowledges that for the sake of the gay rights movement (as it was in 2008) and its “not yet ready for prime-time” end-game—that is unrestricted sexual freedom—it perhaps remained necessary to continue to propagate the “born gay” myth:
“Some (gay) activists feel that the climate is not yet right for such a shift in our thinking about sexual freedom. Given the recent resurgence of conservative antigay activism (much of it focused on banning same-sex marriage), it may well be that for now, the safest way to advocate for lesbian/gay/bisexual rights is to keep propagating a deterministic model: sexual minorities are born that way and can never be otherwise. If this is an easier route to acceptance (which may in fact be the case), is it really so bad that it is inaccurate? (pp. 256,257)
(For a more detailed, yet concise refutation of the born-gay myth, please refer to Dr. Michael Brown’s excellent article, No One is Born Gay. )
But while no one is deterministically born gay, what are we to make of the fact that there is evidence that some people are genetically and/or hormonally and/or dispositionally wired in such a way as to make them more vulnerable, more likely to be subject to homo-erotic temptations and inclinations?
Simple. Accept and deal with it.
But this in no way means we are to also accept the homophile agenda being smuggled in with this not-too-surprising reality.
The fact is each of us is hard and soft-wired in ways that predispose us to all manner of sub-optimal characteristics and habits. Every parent knows their children have certain traits and impulses that are just part of their make-up. After being called to school for the third-time that year because little Johnny is mentally checking out of class in favor of looking out the window and doodling, his mother nervously laughs: “He’s either going to grow up to be a great artist of some kind…or live in a van down by the river.”
Mary was born with a temper. Manuel is shy. Mark is predisposed towards (choose one): anger, pride, overeating, lust, fear, risk-taking, impulsivity, aggression, passivity, rebellion, alcohol or chemical addiction, gender or sexual confusion…on and on. And all of these predilections are, at least in part, the product of everything from their genes; birth-order; the hormones, nutrition or chemical compounds they bathed in while in utero; the emotional and spiritual climate of their home; life experiences (particularly during the critical years between birth and around eight-years-of-age) and many other factors over which the child has little or no control.
And let’s not forget the biggest glitch: a sin nature; the most universal birth defect of them all.
Does that mean we are to wave the white flag of surrender? Bow down before the idol of determinism, embrace our brokenness and iniquities—be they small or big—and join in singing the chorus from West Side Story: “Hey, I’m depraved on account of I’m deprived”?
Souls are doomed the moment that concession is made. And so is the culture that normalizes it.
The fact is, we’re all broken as a result of the Fall. We’re all predisposed towards sin. And each of us has our own demons to fight—one, two or more “besetting sins” or inclinations that will follow us, sometimes all the days of our life. And unless we’re in thrall to politically-correct group-think, each of us also knows we’re not to succumb to or be controlled by these temptations. Instead, we’re called to battle them and learn to channel their dark energies towards the light. Such is the stuff of which great souls—and a much better world—are made. (I would be remiss at this point if I didn’t say that knowing God and learning to ride the winds of His grace is the penultimate key to victory in this regard.)
Lastly, there is also the fact that the characteristics, some innate, that would make someone more vulnerable to homo-erotic inclinations can result in homosexual behavior via a kind-of “self-fulfilling prophecy” mechanism. Take, as a fairly common example, a boy who is wired to be more “aesthetic than athletic.” What happens if he’s marginalized in some way by his former jock dad, who prefers the other, future jock son—and as a result grows up hungry for male affirmation? Or if he is rejected by the other boys on the playground and called a sissy or a queer—and begins to think perhaps he is. I could go on listing hundreds of common scenarios that these types of boys experience and that can bend them towards homo-eroticism. Or worse, create a vulnerability towards a predatory homosexual who then proceeds to flip the switch though sexual abuse masquerading as male affirmation. Sadly, it happens every day.
And it is going to happen more and more now that the walls regarding sexual norms have been so thoroughly destroyed.
“I had been living and traveling in a world full of dykes…in our moments of honesty and courage, we exposed ourselves and our wounds to each other and found that a remarkable percentage of us had suffered at the hands of adult men in our lives and families.” Lesbian author, editor Laura Autoniou in her essay “Anti-Venom for the Soul” (PoMoSexuals: Challenging Assumptions About Gender and Sexuality [Cleis Press, 1997], p. 115)
Imagine a conspiracy within the tobacco industry to glamorize smoking while simultaneously suppressing any linkage between the use of cigarettes and lung cancer, emphysema, COPD and other chronic lung diseases. Vast sums of money are spent on advertising, attempting to make smoking appear fun, satisfying, progressive and chic—never dangerous or stupid. Campaign contributions ensure that an obfuscating cloud of tobacco “smoke” (along with mirrors) settles over the political process. Schools and studies are endowed; rabbits tested and chased; science spun and every exception to the harder-and-harder-to-ignore rules is trumpeted from the housetops.
And millions of people, directly or indirectly, suffer and die.
Obviously, there’s no need to imagine it. This very thing happened in America and lasted for decades…until the tragic costs of believing a lie and normalizing something that is contrary to human flourishing simply became impossible to ignore.
Despite man’s best efforts to do what feels good and right in his own eyes, truth in the end will triumph. Or to put it another way: we don’t just break the laws of nature and nature’s God. They break us.
It’s my deep belief and fear—shared by millions of others who worship and serve this God—that precisely the same thing is happening with the growing movement to cast-off scripture and multiplied centuries of Western (read: Christian) tradition and instead normalize homosexuality or more broadly (because this is truly the endgame) pomosexuality. We are once again suppressing facts, ignoring history, cherry-picking data points, embracing groupthink, and allowing ourselves to be seduced by mavens of spin and self-serving agendas.
The biggest difference between the two campaigns? The consequences of believing and embracing this lie will ultimately be far more profound and destructive than those tied to shilling cancer sticks. As the Apostle Paul made acutely clear in an epistle millions believe to be the most life and world-changing letter ever written: any culture that conflates the image of God as reflected in the fundamental binary structure of mankind (Gen. 1:27); then exchanges the natural function of these binary halves in relation to sexual activity (Rom.1:26,27); and finally embraces this exchange as normal and good (vs. 32b) is doomed. There remains only a terrifying expectation of judgment as God withdraws His hand and allows them to fully reap what they have sown.
A book can and should be written about the broad propaganda campaign that has been waged against the God-ordained structure for gender and human sexuality. It could well be unparalleled in human history, beggaring the treacherous accomplishments of the tobacco industry by comparison: how a barrage of lies, damn lies and spun statistics; quack science; spurious analogies; stolen valor; fear and intimidation tactics, manufactured martyrs and Orwellian newspeak have accomplished the near impossible; what most Americans would have found hard to even contemplate just ten tears ago: legalized homosexual marriage in all fifty states.
Let’s briefly focus on just one small sliver of the propaganda pie, touched on in the opening quote—written, we should note, by a lesbian and published in a radically pro-pomosexuality book: the epic public denial among pomosexualists of any causal connection between sexual abuse and the development of homo-erotic attraction among women. The following examples represent just the tip of the iceberg.
Mary Lambert, a self-identified lesbian who wrote and sings the hook in Macklemore’s wildly successful pro-homosexual anthem “Same Love,” recently admitted that she had been raped by her father, abused by her “mom’s partners” and gang-raped when she was 17.
Cher’s daughter, Chastity Bono—now Chaz after sex-reassignment surgery—wrote in her memoir The End of Innocence (2003) that when she was 11-years-old she was sexually seduced by “Joan,” a lesbian friend of her mother’s who later became Chastity’s sexual confidant. She went on to then describe another dynamic that is also common (though far from universal) with people who experience homosexual impulses: the lack of a close relationship with the same-gendered parent.
“My mom wasn’t always around, since she was working, so Joan sort of filled in that gap…I just focused on the fact that I wasn’t getting enough attention, and I often felt lonely or abandoned. When I spent time with Joan, I felt like the center of attention…” (pp. 10–11).
Rosie O’Donnell, who also had profound mother-issues, has powerfully spoken and written about being sexually abused by a 25-year-old man when she was ten and the varied and profound impacts it has had on her life. Curiously, being same-sex attracted is not one of them.
Comedian Margaret Cho, who self-identifies as bisexual and lives in an open relationship with her husband, has also acknowledged being molested and raped as a young girl. “I just happened to be physically smaller and that’s not my fault,” she said, “so I refuse to let that bad stuff hang around and mess me up. How much it has taken from me, I have no idea— I refuse to look at it, so it doesn’t exist.” This type of avoidance concerning the profound effects of abuse on sexual inclinations and behavior has become standard among self-identified homo-, bi- and trans-sexual people.
Sapphire is the author of the 1996 novel Push that was made into the Oscar-winning movie, Precious. The book and movie tells the story of story of Claireece “Precious” Jones, an illiterate, obese, 16-year-old girl pregnant with a second child by her own father and who now self-identifies (cue Hollywood applause track) as a lesbian. Sapphire, who labels herself bisexual, told the London Evening Standard in 2010 that her father, a Korean War vet, molested her when she was eight. Her mother then abandoned her five years later. “It was traumatic—but to be left with our crazy dad, doubly so,” she told the paper.
Writer, poet, feminist, gay activist and S&M advocate, Dorothy Allison, was repeatedly raped by her stepfather. It started when she was five and lasted for seven years, stopping when she finally found the courage to tell a relative. The abuse later resumed and lasted another five years. She eventually contracted gonorrhea from him.
In a video interview that appeared in the DVD extras of the documentary After Stonewall, Allison lets the cat out of the bag on a number of common pomosexual perspectives that public-relations types championing the normalization of homosexuality would like to keep under wraps: a low view of marriage and monogamy and how the triad she, her lesbian partner and the gay father of their child formed she believes is every bit as good and legitimate—and perhaps even better—a family and child-rearing structure as “Ozzie and Harriet’s.” Along with these admissions, her “straight men/father-issues” and their influence on her sexual orientation were very much on display for anyone who cared to consider them objectively, without the filter of the pro-pomosexual agenda.
Queen Latifah, who is widely rumored to be a homosexual and has provided lots of evidence to support it, told Essence Magazine in 2009 about being sexually abused as a child. “He violated me…I never told anybody; I just buried it as deeply as I could and kept people at an arm’s distance. I never really let a person get too close to me.”
The quote is a telling one. No thinking person will deny that sexual abuse can have an enormous impact on the victim’s psyche. Latifah openly acknowledges that it led to serious commitment issues that have kept her from marrying. No controversy there. Ditto all manner of other well-documented psychological and physical problems connected with childhood sexual abuse: poor self-esteem, frigidity, promiscuity, disassociation during sex, bi-polar disorder, obesity, depression, anxiety disorders, feelings of profound shame, PTSD, substance abuse, impulsivity, self-harm…on and on. But when it comes to also influencing a person’s sexual orientation—something that more and more studies and pomosexuality advocates acknowledge as being fluid, particularly among women, and therefore impressionable…well only a idiot or a homophobe would dare suggest such a thing
You know you’re up-to-your-eyeballs in a massive propaganda campaign, delusional groupthink, or both when you run across this level of entrenched denial and irrationality.
In her autobiography The Truth Is . . .: My Life in Love and Music, Melissa Etheridge shocked more than a few people—including her sister, Jennifer, no doubt—by writing very openly about her sexual initiation. When Melissa was six, Jennifer starting molesting her. The abuse lasted for four years.
On top of that, like Rosie O’Donnell and Chastity Bono, Etheridge also described feeling distant from her mother—already noted as another common factor in sexual confusion. And while she can admit to the gay magazine Advocate that these experiences “definitely set (her) to go down that road” to homosexuality and further told USA Today that the sexual abuse “…makes me who I am today” (6/15/2001), she nevertheless insists that she was “definitely born gay.”
Yep. And so-and-so’s genes and not her two-pack a day habit is why she’s dying of lung cancer.
This would all be laughable if it were not so tragic—for the individuals caught up in this madness as well as for its impact on our culture’s destiny.
I could go on…but will close with this: In 2011 The Advocate ran a story on Don Lemon, the CNN news anchor who had recently come out as a homosexual. The article noted the sexual abuse he experienced as a boy from a neighborhood pedophile.
Several readers responded online to the story. The following comment not only connects the dots between abuse and sexual orientation, it powerfully demonstrates the extent to which our culture’s mad rush to normalize homosexuality is blinding us to what should be the most obvious thing in the world: that is―as pomosexual editor Laura Autoniou observed in our opening quote―a “remarkable percentage” of (homosexuals) are the victims of sexual abuse.
“I am very happy to be a… gay person. But if I admit being raped as an 8-year-old then most people think that I am gay because of being raped. It is as if I don’t own my own personality in their eyes, that it was inflicted upon me. Even worse some will invariably believe that I can be “cured” by coming to terms with being raped. Sometimes I want to talk about it, but I hate how people see me when I do.”
No one should ever be made to feel shame or looked down upon for the brokenness they experience as a result of being victimized. Quite the contrary, they need and deserve our compassion, love and respect. But in the same way we would never dream of affirming a victim’s substance-abuse, depression, detachment disorder, or poor self-esteem as something they should accept and embrace and we as a society should normalize and celebrate, neither should we let our love, compassion and respect for homosexuals sentimentally devolve into affirmations of their sexual or gender disorder. That’s not love.
In the end, it will look a lot more like hate.
 A word coined within the LGBTQ community; short-hand for “post-modern sexuality.” Pomosexuality refers to a non-norientation in which people disregard all sexual and gender labels and are free to express themselves however they want.
This is the sort of book we like
(For you and I are very small),
With pictures stuck in anyhow,
And hardly any words at all.
You will not understand a word
Of all the words, including mine;
Never you trouble; you can see,
And all directness is divine—
Stand up and keep your childishness:
Read all the pedants’ screeds and strictures;
But don’t believe in anything
That can’t be told in coloured pictures.
(Words inscribed on the opening page of an illustrated children’s book by Randolph Caldecott that G.K. Chesterton presented to a young friend)
If you think the year is 2015, you’re only partially correct. For the citizens of North Korea it’s presently 104. That’s because the government retooled the calendar so that the modern era began on the day their tin-pot messiah, Kim II-sung, was born. (April 15, 1912—the “Day of the Sun”—is a national holiday, appropriately coinciding with America’s tax filing day, though it would have been even more fitting had he been born two weeks before.)
His son and successor, Kim Jong-il, took a break from “changing the times”— settling on changing his score card in golf. According to official North Korean state media reports, this unsurpassed leader and athlete routinely shot three or four holes-in-one per round of golf.
But now Jong-il’s son and successor, Jong Un (you’ve got to appreciate the delightful onomatopoeia in all of this), is back on the time thing. On August 15 the government officially put the nation’s clocks on Pyongyang Time, setting them back from the rest of the world by one-half hour.
And there you have it folks: truth unfolding on the world stage. And courtesy of the Playwright who directs the rising and fall of nations and individuals; all in an effort to get through our thick heads that the more we lean to our own understanding, the stupider and more destructive we become.
North Korea: there’s probably no nation on earth more committed to rejecting God; more beguiled by the notion that “man is the measure of all things” and that a great one can arise from the masses and lead the people into a humanistic promise-land. And what has it gotten them? Knocked two thousand years back into the past. (Looking at the living conditions in North Korea, that’s actually an insult to citizens of the iron age.) Jerked a half-step out-of-sync with reality. And cursed with a succession of toad-like fools for leaders who if placed anywhere else in the world couldn’t get elected class clown.
(But before we get too smug: how far behind this tragicomic fiasco are we? I mean, really? Particularly when set against the New Jerusalem God has in mind for this planet.)
And so the “four winds of heaven” sovereignly blow across the roiling, chaotic seas of fallen humanity. Beast systems are cast upon the shore and do their dance until ebbing tides sweep them back into the abyss. Flecks of foamy shame manifest as men: pathetic antichrists granted a brief opportunity to sit on their Creator’s lap and try and slap at His face. Change the times! Rail against the Ancient of Days! Strain against His cords and commandments! Oppress the poor and the people of God!
The Creator chuckles. The Playwright, seated on His blood-bought throne, determines the scene is over; that the plot point is complete. The wind blows and the tides ebb. And Nero, Diocletian, Attila, Vlad, Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Idi, Saddam and the Kims—among other beasts—shuffle off, stage left, into a burning Sheol; waiting on the terrors of the Great Day when the curtain sets on Act One.
Then Act Two begins.
The U.S. Capitol Building is also known as the “People’s House” – homage to the fact that our federal government is “of the people, by the people, for the people.” Well if the president can rename Mount McKinley, the people of the United States can rechristen the Capitol Building to suit the mood of the times.
Please sign our petition to rename the seat of our elected government. And vote on a new name or suggest your own.